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Jonathan Alter Education. (2013) 'The Center Holds Obama and His Enemies.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Jonathan Alter  Education.  (2013)  
   'The Center Holds Obama and His Enemies.'  

    August 4, 2013
    8:15 - 9:31am EDT  

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connection. now there's no option for it. >> how america's economic future is being controlled by companies controlling ark excess -- abscess to the internet. jonathan alter reports on the 2012 presidential election and president obama's re-election team unit losed analytics. this event from the commonwealth club of california in san francisco is about an hour and fifteen minutes. you can find us on the internet at commonwealth club.org or
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download the iphone or android app for program and schedule information and pod cast of past programs. how is that for a lit ration. now it's my pleasure to intro-- introduce our speaker, columnist, and writer. jonathan alter. a writer and a contributor to the bloomberg. author of the new book we'll talk about "the center holds: obama and his enemies." as i he's an analyst and contributing correspondent. you've seen him on nbc and msnbc. he worked for almost thirty years writing more than fifty cover story. me wrote for "the new york times," the wall street, vanity fair, and the new republican. he's the author of other books fkd --
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he is a, in my judgment, probably one of the preimminent experts in this country on president obama. we are pleased and honored to have him here tonight to speak about his new book. our thanks to jonathan alter for joining us. [applause] the floor is yours for twenty five to thirty five minutes. great. >> thank you very much, joe. thank you to everybody for coming. this feels like a homecoming for me. this is my third time at the commonwealth club going back to 2006, when my book about fdr came out. this has to be the most literate audience on my book tour, no disrespect to the other cities i've been to, but i didn't leave
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my heart in san francisco but i think my writer's heart blocks to you, after chicago, which is where i'm from originally. born and raised there. relevant for this evening i come from a political family in chicago, and my mother was the first woman elected in cook county in the chicago area forty years ago 1972. when she was in public office and county office, she knew a young community organizer named barack obama who couldn't get his phone calls returned by the other politicians because she was a nobody. after she died, five days after the 2008 election. he was president elect he had a few other thingses to do. whatever everyone says about him, he's very nice to our family and remembered. so some people like that say he doesn't have much gratitude.
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it's true he doesn't reach tout other politicians as much as he should. i'm going to talk about that. in my own personal case, he did, and i met him about eleven years ago or so when he was a state senator. i was immediately imprez -- impressed by his cockiness. he just lost the house of representatives he told me he was going to be running for the u.s. senate. [laughter] and we were sitting and i said to him at the moment, that's some run for the senate. [laughter] but i'm -- as you can tell from the roosevelt book and other things that i've written about over the years. i'm very interested in history.
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the senate hold a lot of history. it tries to put the 2012 election in hi call context as what i call a hinge of history. i've covered nine presidential elections, and this, to me, was the most important. every four years, and jerry covered many elections, and was our san francisco bureau chief at "newsweek" for many years and covered ronald reagan's elections. he can tell you this every four years, one of the candidates would say this is the most important election of my lifetime! you go, yeah, because you're running. that's why you're saying that; right. i actually thought this one was. this was not your father's republican party that was trying to take the white house, and we were at the moment where a lot
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-- maybe all of the progressive accomplishments in the 20th century were on the line. these had become bipartisan accomplishments whether it was social security and medicare or, you know, federal aid to education infrastructure. which started out as a republican idea under lincoln when the republican party was founded. this republican party didn't believe in that. they saw it as wasteful spending try to rebuild the country. the vice presidential candidate on the republican side, a devotee of ann rand, the ultra libertarian and the ryan plan was very reflective of that. the man who had a strangle hold over a republican party and to
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certain extent still does. a guy i went to college with, norquist, he believes, as he's famous for saying, that government should be made so small that it could be drown in a bathtub. this was a big choice. a big-choice election. i wanted to put it in some context. there was also some personal history of some of the major players involved that made a series of stories i wanted to tell that are not known publicly. what i wanted to start with, actually begins on a pitch black night in the florida everglades in 2005. a car runs off the road and plunges in to a canal. the woman driving the car -- the
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car sinks to the bottom of the canal. some passers by stop. one tries to open the door and breaks his arm, and screaming for help and that 38-year-old man working at the motorcycle.pro -- dealership nearby and sprint to the scene. he's told, she's gone, dude, she's gone. he ignores what the passer byes said. he jumps in to the canal and finally after several dives he manages to get the car open. then the woman is still strapped in with the seat belt. he gets back on the canal bank. somebody fortunely has a knife in the car, and he goes back down again and cuts the seat belt. he frees the woman. it's pitch black. she floats to the surface and revived, and somebody else baby
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-- brought her to the surface, and the man dives down again and feeling with his hands around in the backseat to see if there's a baby there, and fortunately there was no baby in the car. and the man was detroited -- decorated by the town in florida for heroism, a insurance company also gave him an award. seven years later, this man, his name is scott prouty was working for a bartender as a catering company in south florida, and he is told along with the others what the catering company that bill clinton had been in the area repeatedly for a fund-raiser and had his picture taken. and this particular event was
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for romney, and he brought his camera along. i think you know some of the rest of the story. [laughter] i tell in in detail. i try to convey the motivation. in some ways it goes back to the event in the everglades. at one point after many hours of conversation, scott said to me, you know, i learned that night that if you can jump in, you must jump in. he was going do what it took to prevent romney from becoming president. this was all in a class context because what actually really first enraged scott that night was not the 47% which came later in the 48-minute tape, but some very complimentary things that
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governor romney said about an appliance factory in china that he had invested in. and that romney said the young women there were being called what romney called a pittance. it was about $100 to a -- he kept waiting for romney to say and i bought the factory and improved the working conditions. romney never said that. it struck him that he was to this $50,000 crowd was telling them it was a good business opportunity, and as scott thought maybe they'll do it in ohio if he's elected. so there a lot more to that story. [laughter] i don't mean to be a tease. i need to move on a will believe the. there's a lot more to that particular story. to give you a sense of the
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context historically. it actually wasn't the first time that the 47% was never mentioned forty years ago in 1972 richard nixon didn't add which he said that george mcgovern would make 47 percent of americans eligible for welfare and the announcer said that's right 47%. when i saw that i kind of realized that these events take place on a historical continuum. we vice president had -- haven't had many class-based arguments in our politics in the recent elections. nixon thought of as the politic of resentment and mobilizeing middle class and he had a hard hat. middle class resentment again the boor. --
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poor. and rich versus poor or middle class, it began, i would argue in the election of 1896 which was mckinley again william jennings-bryan. his campaign manager was mark hannah which was karl rove's role model. it's not a joke. he's a huge admirer are to hannah who wept around -- went around to the biggest corporation and got huge donations and crushed him with money. he was famous for saying there are two things that are important in politics. money and -- i can't remember what the second one is. [laughter] so, you know, this election, you know, 116-years later was partly
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about that. you had a fellow on the republican side who gave $100 million. one person. and i spend quite a bit of time in the book talking about how the obama campaign used digital technology to win. i think everybody knows they did. i want to explain how they did. to me, one of the most interesting figures after they were able to increase their online fundraising tenfold over a three or four month period, it tushed out that the average obama donation was e6d and -- $66. romney's treasurer wasn't
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exactly sure. he said it was over $1,000 per person. so this was a 99% versus you could argue -- it also was an election that in some ways the 1% prolegislation of one. -- probably should have won. not because it seemed like they would have much more money, but because the economy remains sluggish. on election day, for the first time, a president was re-elected when the country thought that we were on the wrong track. it was the right track, wrong track numbers. that was the kind of win that
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president obama was sailing in to. a year before the election, a security blanket for liberals, he said that he wrote a cover stoirn "the new york times" magazine. "is obama toast ?" he said if the economy didn't improved very much. it turned out it improved. he had a 17% chance of being re-elected. excuse me. so there's a little bit of an inclination now a couple of viewers say i like this book a lot. t very good. he makes it seem like it was a suspenseful election. it wasn't. i don't know if you remember, it was pretty suspenseful toward the end. bill clinton, i have a scene in the book bill clinton calls up
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romney after the election and said, you know, i thought you were going to win until hurricane sandy. now clinton has been known to blow some smoke up people's you know what. [laughter] there was some real concern, and romney himself didn't even prepare a concession speech. paul ryan was so sure that they were going to win, on the night before the election he said his only real concern is would he have to resign his house seat right away after he became vice president elect. he wanted a legal reading on that the constitutional interpretation was. when they told him the next evening that he lost he was completely stunned. even the president at the fair
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month hotel at 12 minutes after 11:00. my networking called the race for obama, and val i whom i have a chapter in the book said you won! and the president says, i'll believe it when i hear it on fox. [laughter] has been might know i'm in a little bit of spot with roger over the chapter called "fox nation." but it was a kind of a -- and you remember what happened with karl. the back story to that that i tell in the book. but you remember that there was a sense on the right that they
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were in tune with the real america. it's something that understandable maybe why they would think that because, you know, the obama coalition young people, blacks, latinos, women, gays, this coalition in 1972 in the mcgovern campaign i was talking about carried one state. this time it won the election by -- excuse me -- by more than 5 million votes. but there was a kind of a sense that i think some people still had the sense, you know, that middle america is conservative and these group that i mentioned are just visiting. they not the real america. and i would maintain that now after the last two presidential election. it's the real america. there's a minority of americans who are obstructing the will of the majority. so that's where we are now.
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and for kind of disspiritted progressives, i just experiment. imagine if romney was president now. if romney and ryan had won. there were a lot of ways it could have gone that way. for instance, if scott hasn't turned on the camera it's unlikely that obama would a 7 point lead going to have first going to the first debate. if might have been hard for him to catch up. there are a number of other factors that contributed to his victory. imagine if romney and rhode ryan were in the office. the economy is improving. but not as sharp as one would
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hope. the deficit has gone down in the $200 billion. it's around $1 trillion. it's quite likely that the bulk of the ryan plan would have been enacted in to law in the early days of the administration because the same way that obamacare was passed with 51 votes under an on secure senate rule that allows it for budget and tax-related legislation. the plan would have very likely passed, and actually somebody in the white house said it would get democratic votes. if romney won. this plan didn't cut budgets by, you know, 5 or 10 percent like the sequestration. we talk 30 to 40, 50% cut. elimination of programs. you know, planned parenthood and
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amtrak being the best known of them. privatizing medicare as they proposed during the campaign. so if this bill would have passed say in the spring the economy is going up nobody would be safe now. the press and reasonable people saying we got rid of the jimmy-carter and we have a business-friendly president. slashed taxes for the wealthy, slashed social program. the economy is going up. cause and effect. these are coming back. just like reagan bringing things back. progressive idea would be discredit for a generation. with the frustrations progressives have right now. i think they should look at the glass half full and say that the country dodged a bullet last
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year. and the ryan plan went from something being a serious possibility to being a grant sincerity. repealing obamacare which they did 31 time. they could repeal it another 21 times and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. the president has been -- the demographic of the country don't move in a progressive direction. the issues -- there are these problems that the president himself has in getting his agenda through and being as effective as his supporters would like him to be. something pretty big happened, and i just want to close with a
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couple of stories from the -- toward the end of the book. some of you remember donald trump's offer to president obama, and the subtitle of my book is "obama and his enemies" i have quite a bit of super mac -- pac millionaire. the voter suppression effort was an effort in nineteen states. literally 43 states in 2011 to tilt the election to the republicans by making it harder democrat constituency. a harry story that i assembled
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on this, but it was a backlash against it, and there were more blacks that voted in 2011 and al sharpton said -- rather have hope in 2012 out of anger. the result was a comfortable victory, and all of the fears about the close election turned out to be false. you did have until the very end of the campaign these people saying that sometimes called obama derangement symptom. people like donald trump injecting themselves in politics. in way that you could argue helped president obama. when he released his birth certificate, he put it on
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memorabilia for sale, and when they didn't have mugs he said where are my mug. i want my mugs. it helped him. but none the less, it really helped -- it characterized part of the year. trump said i'm going give $3 million to the charity of president obama's choi if he releases his birth certificate, his college transcript, he's black and wasn't informative action of harvard even though he became editor of the law review. and some other things that trump wanted released. so a couple of nights later, my wife's boss, steven koa colbert,
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every time i mention this. the audience said what is that guy doing up there? we want to hear from his wife. that evening colbert says i have an offer for donald trump. ly give him $1 million from the colbert super pac for a better tomorrow tomorrow to the charity of his choice if he dips his balls -- excuse me, i got the line wrong. can you believe it? this is why i'm not the comedian. if he allows me to dip my balls in his mouth. that's the only way to be sure that nothing else will come out of it. [laughter] so fast forward to after the election, and the kennedync cols
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been asked to introduce david letterman, he's in the receiving line with the president that i've been in a few times but never had anything as exciting as what happened this time. he said, congratulations, mr. president, and the president says, thank you, steven. thank you for the help of the colbert super pac. and colbert said, well, we can't talk about that. that could be word nate, the president said but we can talk about your offer to donald trump. [laughter] colbert has a pick -- there's a picture in in my book of obama laughing so loud he's falling in to kl bert. and colbert is a little bit uncomfortable. they have middle school age children who didn't have to hear about this. and just then michelle obama bound over and she says, we
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watched that video over and over and over and over again. [laughter] to me that kind of told me that they -- there were a lot of times when they wanted to react, they couldn't react without creating a dynamic that would be harmful to them. they enjoyed it when other people reacted. you could say that he should take the gloves off more often. especially right now. he should be more confrontational. there was a series of reasons why he didn't feel it was right for him to do that, and he is playing a longer game. you can see that on a number of issues and just to take one, for example, the gay military issue. so in 2009 took a lot of heat
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why not do something about don't ask don't tell? a lot of people that made the criticism said that they thought with a stroke of his pen end don't ask don't tell. they didn't realize that he actually have to have congress do it. it wasn't like, say harry truman desegregating. he had to play a more clever game and instruct the military to take the lead, and serve the congressional leader take the lead. he had ed mullen he realized if he went out swinging he would rise -- every time he's for something even on capitol hill vote for it in the past. they are against it. and many examples of this. he is kind of quietly orgestrated. of it a little bit like eisenhower's hidden hand
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presidency. but by the end of 2010, they had gotten this done. so the only reason i mention this is that there's frustration at the pace of change today i think it's a lot of frustration that looks like the immigration bill might get blocked in the house and things that speaker boehner said. something barack obama believed is the line he likes from martin luther king,. upset about snooping on reports, criminalizing investigative reporting, ap reporters and foreclosures news reporter. and other issue we can talk about the nsa and the rest of it, if you want. but i do think that he is
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focused on the longer term and his greatest hope for had hymn. he's remembered as something more than the first african-american president. and so there will be a series of stutter steps. it will frustrate people across the spectrum at various points, but i think we'll look back on this period as an exciting and important one in our national life. so with that, thank you so much for listening. [applause] >> are we about on time? was i close? >> i think we actually have time. i don't need this; is that right? >> he was give megathe hook and
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i didn't get it. >> i'll assume you can hear me. we thank jonathan alter columnist for bloomberg. and the new book you'll buy and those in tv land. "the center holds: obama and his enemies." it's time for the audience questions. we have a number of questions. let me start with one of these. we were talking before the presentation tonight about a question a lot of people ask about the president, which is his general asset. in the book you write very interestingly about the first debate. i think most of us here probably watched it. if you were obama supporters you were more mad at him. there was a sense he showed up but wasn't interesting -- interested in being there. >> he didn't show up. >> it was a criticism that nagged him periodically that he
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seems very withdrawn, emotionally distant. doesn't seem to care. there are people who look at the racial dynamic that said before if this is enormous control he's exert so he doesn't enact a racial stereotype. is it who he is low blood pressure. so that is a criticism that seems to follow him, and it creates the impression as we move from his personality to his ability to govern of someone maybe a little too withdrawn. you followed him. you know him. who is the true barack obama? >> i think it's true as bill daily, his former chief of staff who said it's a guy who will never have a stroke. >> except for all the cigarettes. >> he quit or said he quit. i think he did. he's a big red gum man. excuse me. so i think, you know, part of it is that kind of hawaii culture.
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hawaii upbringing. part of it is his nature. he doesn't go too high or too low. he's very competitive. we saw a very different obama in the second and third debate. he's not a very good actor, and the presidency is a theater, and he has resisted this all along. he never liked debate. he's never been particularly good at debates. his real forte is an meeting. it's interesting you talk to him in meetings with him and how effectively he runs the meets. i have some of that in the chapter of bin laden. he thinks debate are unrelated to the actual work of a president. at one point in the debate prep, by the way, he was o- 6 against john kerry playing romney. and his debate coach's all told
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me they were certain virtually certain that he would lose in the first debate. >> in the first debate. >> they were so terrified -- >> what changed the second debate then? >> this is obama trying to get the three-pointer at the buzzer. he said to the people in the zone of the -- scene of the book he said i don't like debate. i'm not that good at them. i will win second and third debate. he said to his friend patrick at the dnc he said you guys remember that my video with samuel l jackson where he shows up in a family's house and says this is c-span maybe i better -- wake the f up! samuel jackson. >> i think with steven colbert we already -- [laughter] wake the f up! so obama says to patrick in real
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life he was talking to -- he understood that finally it took awhile. he understand how badly he blew it it. when he puts his minds to something, he can be good at. it was like a different person for the second and third debate. there were strategic debates they made. got some bad advise they go in to the first debate. as you said, he just didn't come to play. my wife called me. i was in denver for the debate. i had wife called me and said did you notice -- i repeated it on chris matthews immediately. my wife said it you notice in the begin about how it was his anniversary and said sweety, i promise that next year we won't spend our anniversary in front of 60 million people. and he was saying i would rather
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out be for dinner with you tonight than here. i hate this, i hated prep. i hate the whole thing. and he conveyed that loudly in that debate. he -- he was in danger of blowing the whole thing. people are not going to elect somebody who doesn't want it. >> let me be clear. >> that doesn't mean he didn't want to be president. he didn't want to make concession to the theater of the presidency that is required. it's partly showbiz. he's right. the debate -- at one point they said the moderate around claim the chief debate coach, you know, hey there in the prep with kerry playing romney. he said, mr. president, 30 second on infrastructure. and obama like thirty seconds on infrastructure? i need thirty minute on infrastructure. and that kind of conveyed his attitude. he was worried that his discampaign for romney would come through.
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they were worried it was going to be like another hillary moment. actually he liked hillary. not just as secretary of state. he respects her. he respect the mccain he did not respect romney. and they were worried it was going to come through. by the way, we haven't had a chance to talk about of romney's screw ups. [laughter] >> i want to make clear before we leave the question. you're not asserting that he disliked campaigning. >> no. >> he's good at campaigning. he didn't like debating. >> he didn't like debating. how are they different? >> one is a set mess. -- piece. it's like going out and, you know, -- [inaudible] >> thirty minutes on infrastructure it he? >> he's give many speeches for thirty minutes on father. >> when he was campaigning? >> he would have a speech. we he likes meeting people. it's needy oil --
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politicians, entitled donors. people who think because they have a lot of money that therefore what they're saying must be worth more than what somebody else is saying. those are the people that he doesn't like too much. he like meeting people. he get the same energy that bill clinton does. he's good tat when he sets his mind to it. in this campaign it energizes him. i was with him in the last couple of weeks. >> okay. let's -- start talk about the republicans. i have some questions from the audience member. i think it's a pretty obvious question. you spoke about it when you talked about the disease that his enemies had. this is maybe a different way of saying it. one of the audience members writes, why is -- has been the republican opposition to president obama seemed at times so personal? in your opinion? >> well, first of all, -- >> do you agree it?
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>> of course it's been personal. it goes back a long time in american politics, you know, the election of 1800 where they wrote about thomas jefferson's, you know, slave mistress, and, you know, more -- recently bill clinton was called a murder for a drug deal he took part in arizona at the airport there. this is always been part of our politicses, but -- politics but the internet makes it more intense. it used to be that we get the learn on week on -- "newsweek." now there can be huge volumes of this stuff, and the real difference between obama derangement syndrome and bush derangement syndrome which happened on the left during the bush administration, that's where the phrase came from. that the people suffering from bush derangement syndromes
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thought that bush knew about 9/11 in advance. ridiculous things like that. never of those people were ever put on msnbc. lots and lots of people who believe that president wasn't born in the united, even though there is just zero chance it's true. for reasons we can discuss, if you want. they were not only on fox, but they, you know, john boehner was asked about it on meet the press. the president was asked about it by george steph. he said it's getting in the way of governor it worked the way to the narrow of the campaign. it's harmful. he went and -- hef in chicago and went through his late mother's possession and found the birth certificate. i'll tell that story. but, you know, the degree of
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hatred for him has a racial component. >> that's where i think -- >> it does have a racial component. it's very important to understand it's just unfair to critics of obama to say that everybody who hates him is doing so for reasons that are related to race. i don't believe that's true. i think people hate him for all kinds of reasons, and they're not always related to race. but they're also not never related to race. and, you know, i try to go through and show how people like rush limbaugh, he has a history of racism. because he's on the radio every day, there are a not a lot of people who take the time to write down what he say. when you pull it together, it's pretty chilling. it's to be expected considering that he was the first black president. but some of the things they say about him and his wife are, you
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know, much pretty much beyond the pail. i think the other things that was at stake in the election is if he lost, a lot would have been value -- validated. he would have been seen as the fluke they were depicting him as. jimmy carter, you know, after the idea they they repealed obamacare. the idea that obamacare had been socialism would have been validated. it's not socialism. it's howard baker and bob dole's plan from 1995, you know, it just wasn't socialism. isn't socialism. mitt romney's plan from massachusetts. so a lot of the myth about the president were also on the line in this election. >> let me tease out -- you mentioned the name on the label obamacare. there was a point in the campaign one of our audience
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members noted this as well, where romney had been using that or other people had been using that, and at some point the president accepted it. he even joked -- it may have been one of the debates. he accepted the label. i accepted it. i'm proud of it. in which in some ways took away some of the power of that. it wasn't the intention in calling it obamacare to begin with. that was also about policy and making it personal to him. >> right. >> as an extension of the earlier point -- >> i think it's right. i think he should have done it earlier. well, because, you know, it's easier to run against a person than it is to run against, you know, a program that will allow you to keep your kid on your insurance until they are 26, you know, because when they would actually get down to the
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particular of obamacare, you know, the whole idea continues to be somewhat unpopular. it was critical to getting the will -- latino vote. 71% of latinos -- which is a whole other fascinating story. it ended up working for obama. ..
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>> he's attacked many times over the years. is pronouncing my name right. [laughter] >> keep talking, rush. you will sell some books forum. [laughter] >> roger has claimed there some embellishments in your book. any response? >> people can believe me or roger. [laughter] for instance, i'll give you one example. so, roger told politico that he never worked out of a supply closet as i wrote. i wrote that, well, what i ask about was that rupert murdoch, according to two sources, they had to be confidential because it would've been burned at the stake, rupert murdoch into the office one day and said roger is
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bad become his wacky. he was laughing and he said, he was so short he worked out of a supply closet. the other place he thought was secure. so i didn't say that he did definite workout of a supply closet. i said murdoch told a meeting he worked out of a supply closet. for rogers had i never worked out of a supply closet. there are no supply closets at fox, which is completely untrue, but it's true that rupert thinks i'm paranoid. this is what he said last week. just basically confirming the whole thing. then he tried to do a series of other things. but none of them really stand up to scrutiny. i'm happy to go through all of his critiques in a very short section of the book. i reported it.
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very carefully. roger is a bully. unlike a lot of bullies he can dish it out but he can't take it. so when somebody does, anytime someone to stand up to a bully it's pretty common that they can go to pieces and that's what's happened. >> let me take you down a different path on that just again tease out a little bit more. journalist to journalist, some of your critics say your. to like the president. i don't think your objective as a journalist but you clearly, this is -- >> let me stop you there. i wrote a column and i've been a political drones for a long time i'm not a reporter for "the associated press." it's important people keep distinctions in mind. on a political commentator, a columnist for more than 20 years. i am paid to express my opinions, and that please most good books have a point of view.
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if they don't have a point of view, they are generally not going to be terribly interesting. but having said that, both in my earlier obama book and the fdr book, there was a lot of criticism of fdr. my earlier obama book and this book there's a lot of criticism of the president, a chapter called not so great communicator, a chapter called missing the schmoozer jean, about some of his inadequacies in trying to work with congress and be more inclusive, has been a problem for him. i think of destruction is a huge part of this by his own shortcomings are important to so i get a little, just frustrated i guess you're my people often haven't read the book and say well, he's just apologizing for obama. if they want to read the whole book and then say that's fine, they are entitled to their opinion after reading the book, but i don't like people making
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that assumption before they read the book. >> i did read the book -- >> is that they're? >> i think that's fair and i agree there's a difference between writing editorial columns or a commentary and reporting. i'm going to be a solid on this. i've been reflecting, i'm removing in 1988, responsible for making william orton the willie horton. michael dukakis -- [talking over each other] >> actually in fairness to roger ailes, i believe in the sovereignty of fax. and this book is very, very heavily -- it's not, it's something that has not been reported before. on every page but i can't give people a moneyback guarantee on that but i worked really hard. so what you said about roger ailes and willie hortonized, it's not true. a lot of liberals believe it that he actually can he was not involved in the willie horton ad. is made by somebody else who actually ended up working for
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one of the other republicans spent let me correct you. ailes did put together an ad that didn't mention willie horton. or william orton. that was a cable at what we call an ie campaign and. but the bush campaign with ailes did run an ad. only one person walking through was african-american. slow down, the only person who makes eye contact is the african-american. do you all know what i'm talking about? committed rape and murder. >> that was the 1980 campaign. >> so my point speech by inference, you can't say he made a willie horton ad when he didn't come it wasn't about willie horton. that turnstile was notorious, highly objectional. i'm just saying, just move in with you because i want people to understand that getting the details right is extremely afford. >> here's one going with the point. you were care and willie hortonized.
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my point is you don't have any background. ailes was cleared on the other side and then migrated into news. which to me comes at this from a different background than from someone who's just been in journalism the whole time. and so i wouldn't even begin to compare the two of you is what i'm tried to say. >> that is a nice, i hope not too backhanded comment. >> i made it as an extreme compliment. there's no comparison, for him to attack your integrity is frankly a little rich. >> thank you. >> for what that's worth. let's go from the republican party to part of the republican party, need a social movement, whatever they want to call themselves. here's a question. to what extent do you think tea party back candidates made had a reverse coattail effect in this election? do you think both democratic senate candidates may have helped obama because such tea
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party backed candidates remind voters of its framers of the republican party? >> this is an interesting question. the two senate candidates in question referring to were todd akin in mr. and richard warnock in india. it's interesting that obama cared -- obama carried neither of those states. but he did have, benefit from a very considerable gender gap. that gender gap at the various point look it was mayor when. extraordinarily well with white voters. obviously, that her with white men but there's point where is doing quite well with white women. the publicity over the asinine rate comments in these two campaigns helped obama drive his message that he was better for women. and that the other party was
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living in some different time. and i think that's the other reason that he stressed land and a lot. that used to be fourth or fifth to issue new stock about it in the debates. because he understood that, and he actually earlier in a budget showdown and 2011, obama had almost scuttled the whole deal because john boehner and his people wanted to end support for planned parenthood. obama said that's a dealbreaker. people sometimes ask where is his bottom line? in april 2011 on something called a continuing resolution to keep the government open, obama said no. you're not going to do is to planned parenthood. in part because he knew that there are a lot of women in this country who get not abortion services but basic women's health care services from
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planned parenthood. so all of these issues kind of contributed to his winning the women's vote. and there are stories about all of these different constituency groups and the way obama if you do them. but to my mind, the most interesting is what he did with analysts and the so-called cave that i have a chapter on, which is the secret annex to the obama headquarters in chicago, where these twentysomething geeks, not just data scientists are but a biophysicist, child prodigy, professional poker players, the way they reengineered american politics. so they could say, find obama supporters who felt very strongly about those rate
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comments were women's issues, say, and they put through a very invented facebook app, targeted sharing app that i explained, and that those supporters who felt really strongly about it to good facebook friends, people, in battleground states and they could tell them friend to friend on facebook friend to facebook friend, when they went out and canvassed, they could say, go to not every house on the block but know that mrs. johnson at 5016 6 hawthorne, you know, is interested in women's issues, and bring her some literature about obama and women. this is what the technology did is it worked with the shoe leather to redefine politics. >> technology plus ground game. >> yes. that's precisely it. so this is a long winded way of saying it wasn't enough for him
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to have the senate candidates put their feet in the mouth. maybe people were not very engaged in politics, we're not paying much attention to that. it was to take what they said and deliver it with microtargeting. >> the republicans i assume will learn from that spent yes. they are closing what i call the geek gap. they have a hard row to hoe because i have a scene where the guy who invented the term microtargeting, republican, goes to the romney campaign and he tries to say, obama is harvesting all this data scientists. why don't we get in the game? his wife was a deputy campaign manager for romney, and they wouldn't do it. they thought that as one of the senior advisers said that, he told me that they couldn't predict the subprime mortgage crisis, how are they going to elect a president? they were just wrong about this.
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so the self-described numbers guy, mitt romney, he was and he put his foot in his mouth a lot, he was running a 20th, mid-20th century campaign, what his people called a madman campaign. was actually guys, add campaigns from 1980 to give some of the same guys we elected, ronald reagan. meanwhile, obama is on the cutting edge of what technology can do can't even though he doesn't come out of, he didn't come out of dan buddy randy boehm campaign full of the latest techniques. techniques. spin on services that would say that's maybe a black rock kind of campaign. same idea. staying on that, you mentioned in your talk and also in the book about criticism of the president in some ways, especially after the first debate and maybe now, for
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example, the nsa coming from the list. chris matthews yelling at him if not to get more involved, then why are you still doing these things? so this question from an audience never maybe industry. sound bites -- sometimes your support can be harder on you than your opponents. if obama doesn't need to run again, this audience never asked, why is he still by this person to pandering to the right? why is he still not manifesting a liberal agenda? continue to what he's doing -- keys down pipeline, appointing execs to the cabinet position or threatening social security instead of just eliminating the cap? >> those are all interesting questions. such as -- >> dcm as pandering to the right? >> i think that people need to understand that he's never really been on the far left. he's maybe a little bit left of center but when i say the center holds, it wasn't just the
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conservative takeover of the government. it was that he basically is a centrist. so on something like china, something on energy when using the senate from illinois he broke coal, that was big in downstate illinois. while the steam this includes the largest bill by orders of magnitude in american history, he continued to be and all of the above president when it came to energy. he never repudiated nuclear energy, for instance,. >> faster speed it up because position on that exchange but i think that sometimes there's an assumption on the left that the real obama a struggle to come out and there's some truth to the. he said recently that he would like to go bowl worth, by which he meant be the one character in movie bowl worth who said it has a breakdown a says whatever he believes it and i think part of
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obama would like to do that, and maybe he will on the keystone pipeline. we don't know yet. but these are delivered to the and careful so he ordered a study. did want to go off and say i'm against the pipeline. let's study. let's see what the experts say. and he tries to drill down into a problem and get to irrational, what he considers to be a rational solution rather than just going off in an ideological way on something. and i think that's a good thing. health care was misunderstood. i've been a single-payer man for 20 plus years, in favor of single-payer and public option. [applause] but i didn't begrudge obama at all his strategy on obamacare, because again, look into history. the idea of universal coverage was first launched in the progressive party bull moose
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platform of 1912 when they nominated theodore roosevelt. and seven presidents tried and failed to get universal coverage, including franklin roosevelt who chickened out on it. others were blocked by congress for all kinds of reasons. obama had to do some unpleasant things, cutting deals with pharmaceutical companies, but he got done what presidents have failed to get done for a century. people will no longer have to worry about losing their house if they get sick. as a cancer survivor myself, this really cuts close to home. and i think all the noise, get the basics of the, gets obscured and it's a huge progressive accomplishment. if he gets immigration reform, that will be another big one. i'm critical of them for not being more progressive on leaning on the banks when he had a chance. that he relied too much on
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certain wall street advice. he had a set of reasons for that because of the state of economy, the brutal state of economy where we're losing 800,000 jobs a month and he didn't think, like roosevelt also rejected nationalizing the banks, he didn't think nationalizing the banks is a good idea in 2009 but he did fight for things like elizabeth warren's consumer protection board. major that was in the bill when even democrats wanted to strip it out there and i haven't seen just on his progressive question, so this became a really emotional issue. became emotional, and emotional issue for him as a related to african-americans. and there's a picture in the book of obama with his face twisted in anger reading cornell west. he's just come down from giving a speech at the national urban laid and he says to him, he says, what is this, i'm not progressive shit you are talking? he was so angry at west, and
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that a woman there who stand behind cornell west said, that it had been anyone else talking that way, the secret service would've hauled the person out of there. the president was really angry at this idea that he was al-awlaki of wall street. he's not. may be made too many concessions on this or that but the cornell west view was wrong, especially this notion that is not black enough guys who just completely around the bend. so i had a couple of meetings with more support of african-american leaders and the vast majority support the president. a meeting with him in the roosevelt room, and one of them says, you know, why not have a more pro-black agenda? and he says, if i just a black black black, that's not what how they get these industry. but look at food stamps. helps blacks. health care, else a blacks. at a later meeting al sharpton told a story that was kind of relevant. he said he had a friend who
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convert to islam and went out to lunch with him and the friend had a ham sandwich. and reverend al who is my colleague now on msnbc, he says, hey, you can't beat portrait and the guy says, this isn't pork. it's a ham sandwich. [laughter] and al sharpton says to them, just because it's not called the pork doesn't mean it's not pork. he turns to the president as mr. president, because your gender is not called a liberal pro-black agenda doesn't mean it isn't. and obama said, i like the pork metaphor. [laughter] >> it's a ham sandwich. i think we may, fortuity out of time. >> i'm sorry. went on too long. >> it's okay. a few second. your prediction on the spring core and proposition a for those of us here in san francisco. and why the president obama change on this issue? >> well, i think he realized
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that the country was changing and he was a little bit behind but we needed as you saw people like commentators like andrew sullivan said this is a huge thing, even if it's a little later than we had hoped, just when you think about how far the issue has come and such a short period of time, to have an american president come out in favor of same-sex marriage and then to mention gays and lesbians in an inaugural address for the first time in american history. a big deal. i think he looks at it like lincoln was not early on abolition. he came late to the party. when you're president you have to kind of control -- i think the dome a decision had been ago in the right direction, the supreme court for a bright speed is becoming politically. >> correct direction to the very word that there'll be a strikeout of voting rights act and this will mean that a lot of
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states will move forward with these just really offensive voter suppression bills that they were able, that people were able to resist. and obama would not have been collected if those statutes were on the books. so this is a very important struggle that's coming and will require a lot of organization. there's a lot of people, so that thing that was, voter suppression was launched right after the 2010 midterm. that's when my book starts, after the shellacking. they use of their vantage in state legislatures to reach on the maps, lock in their house majority until 2020 i would predict. even the democrats got 1 million more votes for the house, republicans a 55% of the seats because of the drawn lines. that's business as usual. democrats used to do that, too,
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when they controlled state legislature, they would redraw the maps in their favor. what was different was this idea of targeting certain groups to make it harder for them to vote. i would maintain that is un-american, and that struggle will continue and anybody who wants a sense of the background of that voter suppression struggle, try to bring it all together in one place in this book. >> well, on that note, please join in thanking jonathan alter. [applause] >> we would like to from you. tweet us your feedback, twitter,/booktv. spent the myth of workers buried in the hoover dam have to be without its greatest mr. and i
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would argue american myth. because since the completion of hoover dam in 1935, as people visit that, millions of tourists asked the tour guides, where are the men buried in the concrete? it's not true. but people want to believe it is true. the question is, did people die on the dan? 112 meant officially died. it was a dangerous project. but nobody was buried there. and the question is why not? well, for one of the first things is, it's a construction of law. to leave a body and a damn, it could break. at the same time the way the dam was built the wasn't a monolithic foe, a felon, got to leave them there. it was by small seconds. you could pull anybody out if you have to. man was buried but he was
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dug out for purposes of not undermining the dance construction but at the same time there's a list of anybody. the federal government, the two newspapers, all collaborating to cover up men were buried in the dam. and i've heard, another concrete dam. i think the story goes this way. there was an earthen dam in montana built about the same time, and it did break away and men were buried. they were compacted. the newspaper reports, a monument of everybody's name is identity we know who they are. there are death certificates in montana the we have no death certificates for men buried at the hoover dam. do you know what? people will believe this for the rest of the time and i'm going
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to keep trying to get them to not believe it. >> is a look at some books that are being published this week.
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>> look for these times and bookstores coming this week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv and on booktv.org. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. here's our primetime lineup for tonight.
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>> that all happens tonight on booktv. >> why nevada became a state. the myth that all of us children appearing this. it is still shared in a classroom at a drive me crazy is that nevada was admitted to the in as a safer gold and silver from the comstock, although mining wealth. not true. nevada was admitted as a territory in 1861 for its mining wealth. after the outbreak of the civil war, but in 1864 it was associate with abraham lincoln's reelection bid to get new states that would support him, popular vote and electoral votes.
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and on top of that, he was already looking at reconstruction, the reconstruction of the south, looking at the 13th a minute. it already passed the senate. nevada could support his efforts in the house. so the truth in the matter is, lincoln and the moderate republicans needed nevada supporting him to relent. it look like it would be a three-way race between general mcclellan, who is a democrat, and john c. fremont was the first republican candidate in 1856. also fremont cut a deal with the lincoln, dropped out of the race and lincoln one handedly. nevada was critical in its houseboat for the 13th amendment, supports the 14th amendment, and was the first state any to support the 15th amendment. so it's all about politics, all about lincoln, all about construction ad